The Murder Complex (The Murder Complex #1) by Lindsay Cummings #bookreview #YA #dystopian

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

I’ve had this in my TBR for far too long, and after finishing it, I’m sorry I didn’t get to it sooner.

When another author friend recommended this book, I looked it up and loved the premise.  Having La Femme Nikita as a comp title was just icing on the cake.  Trained assassins, a government who tracks population numbers, a fierce female protagonist, and family secrets – what’s not to like?  Be warned – this is a dark storyline with violence and some graphic deaths, so it may not be to everyone’s taste; however, if you enjoy thrilling plot twists and outstanding action sequences, this could be for you.  I felt like the romance happened at the speed of lightning (literally love at first sight for one of the characters), but it didn’t really overshadow the plot.

Several reviewers have commented on the violence, but I felt it was comparable to The Hunger Games.  I’ve already downloaded the next book, and I guarantee it won’t take me so long to read this one.

Containment (Sanctuary #2) by Caryn Lix #bookreview #YA #scifi

They may have escaped Sanctuary, but Kenzie and her friends are far from safe.

Ex-Omnistellar prison guard Kenzie and her superpowered friends barely made it off Sanctuary alive. Now they’re stuck in a stolen alien ship with nowhere to go and no one to help them. Kenzie is desperate for a plan, but she doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Everyone has their own dark secrets: Omnistellar, her parents, even Cage. Worse still, she’s haunted by memories of the aliens who nearly tore her to shreds—and forced her to accidentally kill one of the Sanctuary prisoners, Matt.

When Kenzie intercepts a radio communication suggesting that more aliens are on their way, she knows there’s only one choice: They must turn themselves in to Omnistellar and destroy the ship before the aliens follow the signal straight to them. Because if the monstrous creatures who attacked Sanctuary reach Earth, then it’s game over for humanity.

What Kenzie doesn’t know is that the aliens aren’t the only ones on the hunt. Omnistellar has put a bounty on Kenzie’s head—and the question is whether the aliens or Omnistellar get to her first. 

I read the first book in this series, Sanctuary, last summer and referred to it as a mixture of Alien and X-Men.  I was thrilled to receive an ARC of book two.

First, I have to comment on the book covers – they’re beautiful, bold, and completely eye-catching.  It’s easy to tell they’re part of the same series.  To say this diverse cast of characters experienced traumatic events in Sanctuary is an understatement.  Because of what happened to them, some are understandably suffering from PTSD – which is something you don’t see addressed very often in YA novels and is handled very well.

This author is brilliant at ending chapters on exciting cliffhangers.  I’d plan to read a couple of chapters before bed, then wind up going through two more because I had to know what happened next.  Character development is also a strength, and it’s easy to see how these characters have evolved from the first book.

Pacing was a bit of an problem for me.  This book sits at around 500 pages, and I felt it could have been tightened in some areas.  Kenzie is dealing with a lot of issues – guilt, relationship woes, death of a parent – and her internal thoughts about this take up a chunk of the first 50% of the book to the extent I felt it overshadowed what was happening in front of her.  I read an ARC, so this may change with the final version.

Containment ends on a cliffhanger (just like most of the chapters!), so I’ll be anxious to read the next book in the series.  If you enjoy high stakes sci-fi that ventures into the horror arena, I’d recommend this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

A plague, called Wicked, is pulsing through the world; and in its wake, it’s dividing the population into thirds:

The WICKED: Already infected by the droves of Singers, the ultraviolet mosquito-like insects who carry the plague, the Wicked roam the world freely. They don’t want for much—only to maim and dismember you. But don’t worry: They always ask politely first.

The TRUE: The True live in contained, isolated communities. They’re the lucky ones; they found safety from the Singers. And while the threat of the Wicked may not be eliminated, for the True, the threat has certainly been contained…

The VEXED: The Vexed are the truly fortunate ones—they survived the sting of the Singers, leaving them immune. But they’re far from safe. The Vexed hold the key to a cure, and there are those who will do anything to get it.

I’m always up for a post-apocalyptic plague story.  I’ve read several, but this novel puts a fresh spin on the typical version.

Some reviews have referred to the Wicked as zombies.  I didn’t see them that way at all.  They’re almost childlike, but retain most of their memories and are able to function and take care of themselves.  It’s unnerving, because it can be difficult to tell they’re Wicked.  They’re lethal and, given the chance, will kill you in spectacular ways.  However, as with children, their attention can usually be diverted – at least for a little while.  Maybe enough time to get to safety.  Maybe not.  Don’t underestimate them.

There’s a clever plot twist toward the end.  It’s something I suspected early on, but that didn’t make it any less ingenious, and it gives the whole story a new perspective.

How We Became Wicked isn’t just a post-apocalyptic story, it’s also about the sacrifices we make to save our loved ones.  And how some people can so easily sacrifice others to save themselves.  The ending leaves me to believe there may be a sequel.  If so, I’ll definitely be looking for it.  This novel is scheduled for release July 23, 2019.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre #bookreview #YA #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

A dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge and plenty of drama, layering the secrets we keep and how appearances can deceive, from the New York Times bestselling author.

In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found. When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to live with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She’ll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won’t be exciting, but she’ll cope, right?

Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don’t talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind. To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried… 

I’ve never read this author before, but when the book description mentioned a small town with secrets, and suspense with a sci-fi edge, I knew it was time to become acquainted with her work.

This book grabbed me right away.  Araceli feels a presence in the attic, and actually sees the string attached to a light bulb turn on by itself – I was all in.  Mysterious lights in the forest, loads of people missing, a box that transports letters to a recipient decades earlier – it just got better.  A lot goes on in this novel, and that’s something I enjoyed about it.  It’s also an usual blend of contemporary, romance, suspense, and sci-fi, something that should attract readers of several genres.

Traveling with her journalist parents for most of her life, Araceli has experienced things most teens can’t imagine, so it’s understandable that she dives into these mysteries head first.  While I admire her bravery and determination, she also comes across as selfish and headstrong, since she doesn’t always consider the consequences of her actions – especially when they involve the lives of other people.  Then again, these are the actions of a teenager.

I don’t generally read YA contemporary, but with sci-fi, suspense, and time travel tossed into the mix, I plowed through this book in a couple of days.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

DEV1AT3 (Lifelike #2) by Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Lemon Fresh has seen better days.

After the climactic battle in Babel, she finds herself separated from Ezekiel and Cricket in the wastelands. Lemon’s abilities to manipulate electricity mark her as a deviate, and deadly corporate operatives are hunting her to use as a weapon in the war between BioMaas Incorporated and Daedelus Technologies. Instead, Lemon finds herself falling in with a group of fellow deviates—a band of teenagers with astonishing abilities, led by an enigmatic figure known as the Major, who may hold the secrets to Lemon’s past.

Meanwhile, Cricket finds himself in possession of the puritanical Brotherhood, a religious cult set for a head-on collision with the Major and his band. Searching for Lemon, Ezekiel finds a strange ally in an old enemy, and uncovers a plot that may see him reunited with his beloved Ana.

And inside Babel, a remade Eve hatches a plan to bring an end to the world.

I’m pretty sure I squealed in excitement when I received this ARC.  The first book in this series, LIFEL1K3, was mind-blowing, full of twists, and one of my most memorable reads last year.

In the first book, Lemon Fresh stole nearly every scene she was in, so I was thrilled she’s the primary POV for DEV1AT3.  Fiercely loyal, a rollicking sense of humor, and such a kind heart – anyone would be lucky to count her as a friend.  With her enthralling story, I ran through nearly every emotion out there.  By the end of the book, she’s still surrounded by mystery, and I’m excited to see what happens next for her.

Cricket, my favorite logika, has a chance to live what he thought was his dream.  Unfortunately, be careful what you wish for.  Ezekiel finds an unlikely accomplice, learns some hard truths, and fights the good fight – but there are still surprises in store for him.

The world-building, a combination of Mad Max and Pacific Rim, continues to be magnificent, and some new, highly charismatic characters are introduced.  Some readers may be disappointed Eve plays more of a minor role in this novel, but Lemon’s story is too big to be a sub plot, and needs to be told.  When all is said and done, I think everything will weave together in the end.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

My Top 5 #SciFi Movie Influences #OWSCyCon2019 #YA

I’m pretty sure I was born a sci-fi geek.  From a young age, I can remember being captivated by sci-fi movies and books.  Normal generally bored me – I lived in the world of normal.  It was the unusual, otherworldly, and improbable that held me spellbound.  Today, I thought I’d share with you the five science fiction movies that made the biggest impressions on me.  Rather than listing least to most favorite, these are listed chronologically.

5.  Planet of the Apes  I’m totally dating myself, but I was in grade school when these movies came out, and I was instantly hooked.  Seeing Charleton Heston awaken to another world where apes were in charge – and they spoke?  I never knew movies like this existed.  But when he saw what was left of the Statue of Liberty at the end, my young mind was blown.

4.  Star Wars  You had to see this one coming.  Light sabers, talking droids, powerful Jedis, space travel, and such detailed world-building – instant obsession.  I’m a fan of the whole series (except any scenes including Jar Jar Binks – such a travesty), and after watching A New Hope, my next obsession was the video game adaptation at the local arcade.  I personally destroyed the Death Star many times over.  You’re welcome.

3.  The Terminator  This movie is at the root of my love of just about anything involving time travel.  It didn’t hurt that Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) looked the way he did.  As Sarah Connor, I would have accepted his offer in a heartbeat.  But seriously, the whole premise that John Conner sent a soldier back in time to protect Conner’s mother – and that man was Conner’s father?  I turned that one over in my mind for days.  I’ll still watch that movie when it’s on.

2.  The Matrix  I was a Keanu Reeves fan long before I saw this movie.  Besides the effects being off the charts cool, once I understood what the Matrix was?  And Neo was The One?  I fell hard for this one, and the sequels that followed.  The idea that what you perceive is reality isn’t, but some people choose to live that way had my head spinning for days.  It might have been my first experience with alternate realities.

1.  Inception  Speaking of cool effects – even if you didn’t get Inception, there’s no denying they were visually stunning.  The whole entering someone else’s consciousness impacted me deeply.  If you ask me, that token fell, and Dom was reunited with his children.

Parts of my young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel, The Gemini Connection, were heavily influenced by The Matrix and Inception.  One of my main characters, Evan, is a Mindbender who enters the minds of others and connects thoughts and concepts, and occasionally battles nightmares.  Evan also shares an unusual connection with his twin, Simon, that is instrumental in saving their dying planet.  To find out more about my books, you can look around here, on my website, or check out my virtual booth here.  I’ve also written a young adult horror novel, Sarah.  Info on that book is included in my sci-fi booth, or you can visit my booth under the horror section here.

OWS CyCon officially runs May 17-19 with the CyCon website and Facebook events acting as the hub for all of our events. Sign up for our newsletter or RSVP to the event to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the bookish goodness we have to offer. Plus, you can read more about our participating Sci Fi authors and their Top 5 favorites in Sci-Fi before CyCon starts. Visit the blog hop page any time leading up to CyCon for the latest posts and your chance to enter our MEGA giveaway (open May 10).

#OWSCyCon2019 Cover Wars – Please Vote! #YA #scifi #horror

Happy Friday!  I’m participating in OWS CyCon over the next few days, and both of my book covers are battling it out in Cover Wars – Sarah under horror/thriller, and The Gemini Connection under sci-fi.

I could use your help, and this is me begging for votes – if you have a couple of minutes, please vote at the following links:

Vote for Sarah HERE.

Vote for The Gemini Connection HERE.

Fair warning – the bracket for sci-fi has been kind of wonky in the mornings, but seems to work in the afternoon.

Don’t forget to register for the 22 book and Amazon gift card giveaway HERE!

Thanks so much – have a great weekend, and don’t forget to vote tomorrow, also!